Simple Approaches To Contributing To The Biodiversity Of Our Urban Communities

Simple Approaches To Contributing To The Biodiversity Of Our Urban Communities

Contributor: Nelson Wills – Director at New Ground – Member of National EnviroDevelopment Board

This blog provides an overview of some simple ways we can contribute to improving the biodiversity in our community while making our urban spaces all the more productive, comfortable, and that little bit more interesting.

Plant a variety of locally native plants in your garden. Floral habitats in our urban areas form a range of functions, from foraging resources for insects, birds, and mammals through to fauna breeding places and movement conduits. Landscaped areas can also provide microclimates (e.g., shade, cooler spaces) that are more comfortable to the people that use the area. In general terms, the more diverse the native flora in our urban areas, the more diverse the suite of fauna using them. For example, a monoculture of some hybridised grevillea purchased from the largest hardware store in town is less likely to yield a ‘wow’ inducing assemblage of birds frequenting your yard than what you might expect from a selection of flowering plant species that are endemic to your neighbourhood. The local native plant nursery will likely have a range of interesting plants that will make your garden a preferred restaurant/drop-in centre for the local fauna. You could take it even further and plant some local native bush tucker plants so you can eat out there too! Try to avoid using pesticides, herbicides, and poisons in your garden. These can have unintended consequences that are hazardous to urban biodiversity (and can render your bush tucker inedible!). For example, blue tongue lizard populations are impacted by snail baits (a baited snail is a poisonous meal). Frog populations can be impacted by chemical run off into aquatic habitats and indiscriminate use of pesticides can kill off insects that are actually good to have in the garden (e.g. ladybugs and native bees).

Build a hotel. Want to improve local biodiversity? Build a native bee hotel. It is widely accepted that pollinators are on the decline. We need these to pollinate our food crops and the flowers in our beautiful gardens. Installation of structures in your garden that encourage the likes of native bees (don’t worry they don’t sting) to ‘check in’ helps to support local populations of insects. Did we mention that ‘sugarbag’ (native bee honey) is very tasty and some people swear by its health benefits. If you like the idea of building hotels, you could go further and install nest boxes on trees within your property. There are a range of nest box designs to suit the species that may use them; some of these designs are even geared toward deterring use by pest species. Nest boxes are commonly used for mammals (gliders, possums, microbats) and birds (galahs, cockatoos, owls) and can make for a curious addition to the garden. Want that ‘Zen’ feeling? Build a frog pond or a native fish pond. Insect hotels, native bee hives, nest boxes, and native frog/fish ponds can be readily bought online or at some nurseries/hardware shops and a web search returns DIY plans (make your search as local-centric as possible to customise your efforts to endemic biodiversity).

Monitor your pet’s diet. Cats and dogs are a major threat to native wildlife. Simple actions such as putting bells on the cat’s collar and bringing the dog (and cat) inside at night can greatly reduce the native fauna kill rate inflicted by domestic pets. While on the subject of diets, we note that feeding the wild animals (this includes birds) of the garden should be avoided. This seemingly helpful act can cause animals to get sick, artificially inflate populations, increase fauna susceptibility to disease and cause animals to lose their natural fear of humans which can make them aggressive/intimidating.

There you have it. Some simple ways to support biodiversity in your local area while contributing to the amenity of our urban areas.

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